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Could you face charges for drugs that aren’t yours?

On Behalf of | Aug 13, 2021 | Drug possession |

You are driving home one night and the police stop you and ask if they can search your car. You have nothing to hide and are unsure about your legal rights, so you tell them to go ahead. A few minutes later, the police officer lets out a satisfied “Ah-hah” and holds up a small bag of white powder.

“Honestly, officer, I had no idea what that is or what it is doing in my car” is unlikely to wash in a situation like this. The most likely thing that will happen is they arrest you and charge you with possession of an illegal substance. What happens next?

The authorities assume that any drugs in the car are yours

If the drugs are not yours, the police may still be able to prosecute you if they can show you had constructive possession. That means that you presumably knew about the drugs and had access to them. Since it’s your car, the police will generally assume that you knew what was in it — and you clearly had access and control over the drugs found there. In reality, the drugs could have been dropped by a friend or relative during a ride sometime in the past, but proving they are not yours can be difficult. 

The first thing to do in a situation like this is to get help. You have the right to an attorney, and you should use it. If you understood the laws well enough to go it alone, you would have known that you can tell the police they cannot search your car without a valid reason or warrant. Drugs charges carry serious consequences, so it is crucial to look at all defense options.